I first learned about Cameo Edwards, CEO and Head Baker of Crave Bakery in San Francisco from a personal message on Twitter. Fast forward to today and I feel like we were separated at birth. Her story of overcoming the challenges of being gluten intolerant, taking a chance, and opening up a bakery on a wing, hope, and a prayer directly mirrors my experiences over the last few years. It is truly uncanny how much we both have in common; down to the fact that I am wrapping up my first soon to be released cookbook. Crave Gluten Free Cookbook is also her first ever cookbook; written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her Crave Bakery.
After a few technical glitches and a lot of impatience (on my end) I eagerly began to consume this e-book that I had been craving for (pun intended) since interacting with Cameo. From the very first peek of this e-book, it was immediately clear to me that this book is masterfully designed, created and edited for the e-reader platform. As an avid reader, just now jumping onto the Kindle and e-pub bandwagon after years of relunctance; I can’t tell you how many e-books I have bought only to be disappointed by a clunky interface and e-reader challenges that made me wish I had stuck with the hard copy. Such is not the case with Crave Gluten Free cookbook. The easy to read bold text set to a clean white background is a breeze to read no matter how big or small your screen. Cameo includes links and liner notes that open up in secondary windows so that you never leave your place within the book. The reader can jump back and forth between pages and contents without tabbing through multiple screens. This is how you create an e-cookbook.
Another feature that I am impressed with, is the layout of the chapters and organization of the contents. Recipes are grouped by type cakes and cupcakes, frosting, brownies and cookies, tarts etc. But she also provides a base recipe for each group with multiple variations stemming from that base recipe. This allows the baker ample room to play around with the recipes should they choose to. In fact, customization and tweaking are encouraged throughout the many recipes that are provided. Another facet that I love, is that each recipe has a tools list telling the baker/reader what utensils and equipment are needed to create that recipe. How functional! I thought this was a savvy feature to help novice and inexperienced bakers prepare and setup their station before they tackle their chosen confection.
Ok. So enough rambling about the book specifications (I’m a self-proclaimed cookbook nerd) what you really what to know about are the recipes. Well, these recipes are A+mazing and totally awesome. Each recipe lists what allergens are addressed in the recipe. For example the Spiced Banana Cake is Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free and Corn-Free. Gluten free of course encompasses the entire cookbook but I liked the fact that Cameo tailored her recipes to accommodate other types of food allergies. Crave Cookbook has a wide range of classic confections like Vanilla Cake and Oatmeal Raisin cookies to Fruit Tarts and Chocolate Mousse. Cameo groups the recipes in subsections Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced again giving the baker a heads up as to the level of difficulty of the recipe before they take out the flour. Measurements are listed by volume as well as weight. There is a whole section devoted to discussing the benefits of weighing ingredients using a calibrated scale; again sound advice from an experienced baker. I like that Cameo gives the baker a choice in the matter. Her whatever works best for you approach is truly refreshing, especially in the world of gluten free cookbooks where authors can easily become “preachy” or “righteous over much”. Baking can and should be fun and whether you have food allergies or not the process should not be cumbersome, tedious, or boring. Crave cookbook keeps the tone light, but professional and fun.
Cameo includes a recipe for her all purpose flour blend as well as a wealth of baking tips that every baker no matter their skill level would benefit from. Crave Gluten Free Cookbook is truly a delight to read. Cameo makes you feel like you are right there in the bakery with her, chatting with an old (very beautiful) friend. It is a joy to read from cover to cover (or is it beginning to end since it’s an e-book) and you will surely find yourself hard pressed to decide which recipe to begin with.
So which confection did I choose? You will have to read the next post to find out…
the gluten free chef